Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?
WHAT IS IT CLUE: © DEEPSPACEDAVE | DREAMSTIME.COM
News and updates from MDC
Missouri youth, archery, and firearms turkey hunters can apply online for 2020 spring turkey managed hunts starting Feb. 1 at mdc.mo.gov/springturkeyhunts. Managed hunt details and application procedures are outlined on the webpage. Drawing results will be posted starting March 15. Spring turkey hunting youth weekend is April 4 and 5 with the regular spring season running April 20 through May 10.
Detailed information on spring turkey hunting will be available in the 2020 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold beginning in February. To learn more about turkey hunting in Missouri, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z3h.
Buy Missouri hunting permits from numerous vendors around the state,
online at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits, or through the MDC free mobile app —
MO Hunting — available for download through Google Play for Android devices
or the App Store for Apple devices.
MDC’s Forestry Division reminds you not to throw that cut Christmas tree into the trash after the holidays. Recycle it! Many communities have a Christmas tree-recycling program. If not, there are several creative ways to make use of your tree in nature.
Place the tree in the backyard to offer cover for wildlife, or under bird feeders to provide roosting locations in the branches. Add some post-holiday treats as ornaments by coating pinecones with peanut butter and adding bird seed.
Have your tree shredded or chipped for mulch, or place cut branches over dormant plants to provide a bit of insulation during the winter and to add organic matter as the needles fall.
You can also sink the tree in a pond to enhance fish habitat. Trees give fish a place to rest, nest, and escape predators. Multiple trees make the best cover so work with friends, family, and neighbors to combine efforts. Anchor the trees with concrete blocks and sink them at a depth of about 8 feet with the trees placed in a row.
If you used a balled live evergreen and your ground is still soft enough to dig, add it to your home landscape for years of enjoyment and wildlife cover.
Fisheries staff have stocked more than 70,000 rainbow trout in urban-area lakes around the state for winter trout fishing. Many of these areas allow anglers to harvest trout as soon as they are stocked, while other areas are catch-and-release until Feb. 1. Find locations near you at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zpm.
Beginning Feb. 1, all urban-area lakes allow the harvest of trout. The daily limit is four trout with no length restrictions. All Missouri residents older than age 15 and younger than age 65 must have a fishing permit. All nonresidents over age 15 must have a fishing permit. To keep trout, all anglers regardless of age must have a Missouri trout permit.
Learn more about trout fishing at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zps.
Retired MDC Fisheries Biologist Bob Hrabik recently rediscovered a “lost” species of fish while leading a class of university students on a fish-sampling field trip at Cane Creek Ditch in southeast Missouri. Last September, Hrabik and the class found several specimens of the long-elusive small minnow called the pallid shiner (Hybopsis amnis).
Pallid shiners were last seen in the state in 1956. The species was once widespread throughout the eastern half of Missouri. Over time, it became increasingly uncommon and then vanished, causes unknown.
Got a Question for Ask MDC?
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: I noticed a blue jay fill his mouth with sunflower seeds without shelling them. Does he eat the shells? Or does he crack them somewhere else?
A: The blue jay may eat an entire sunflower seed every now and then, but it’s more likely it was storing the food in a cache for later. Each individual adult eats or caches several thousand acorns, hickory nuts, or other hard mast every autumn. This species is also capable of holding seeds in their “crop,” an expandable pouch in their esophagus used to transport and store excess food prior to digestion.
Blue jays also hold seeds between their toes and hammer on them with their beaks to extract the nut meats. Typically, perching birds — like the jay — can’t break down seed hulls as effectively as birds with more muscular gizzards, such as turkeys, grouse, and quail.
Q: I’ve heard skipjack herring make good catfish bait. Can you tell me more about this fish?
A: Named because they tend to “skip” or leap out of the water in
pursuit of minnows, skipjack herring (Alosa chrysochloris) are highly migratory and travel in large schools.
A native fish, they occur in our state’s largest rivers, including the Missouri, Osage, Meramec, and Mississippi rivers. They are most common in the Bootheel, downstream from the mouth of the Ohio River.
Scientists do not know exactly when and where this species spawns, but they believe it begins in early May and ends soon after July 1. A good place to look for them is in the swift currents below Bagnell Dam, where their spawning run is interrupted. They are not readily caught by anglers, which makes them a new challenge for experienced anglers.
Skipjacks are bony and lacking in flavor, which is why they are seldom used as food. The fish’s oily flesh is thought to attract catfish and can be used — either alive or as cut bait — on juglines and trotlines.
Q: I recently noticed an eastern red bat flying in January. Is this normal?
A: Yes. On sunny winter days when temperatures rise above 50 degrees, it’s not unusual to see eastern red bats (Lasiurus borealis) awake and feeding on whatever flying insects are available.
Many eastern red bats migrate southward, beginning in September and continuing until November. Although most of the migration occurs at night, sometimes small numbers may travel together in the daytime. Little is known of their migration pattern. Some bats migrate to Missouri from northern states; others are Missouri bats overwintering in place. They tend to spend the winter in sheltered spots like clusters of dead leaves, tree cavities, or under bark.
Since this species is adapted to survive drastic temperature fluctuations, very few use caves. A few eastern red bats might swarm at the mouths of certain caves in autumn and mingle with other bat species, but they generally do not hibernate in them.
SNOW FLEA: TOM MURRAY / CC BY-ND-NC 1.0
Snow fleas (Hypogastrura nivicola), also known as springtails, are tiny, oval creatures that lack wings. They have a forked tail-like structure that enables them to spring, or jump. Snow fleas swarm in foot tracks and other indentations in the snow, making the snow appear almost black. Their bodies act like an antifreeze, allowing them to remain active in the freezing temperatures. Their numbers are small and their distribution limited, making them vulnerable to extirpation from the state.
At the beginning of the new year, people often take stock of everything from their health to their finances. Why not add your land to that list? January is the time to contact your local private land conservationist and wildlife or fisheries biologist to start planning for your land for the year ahead. Whether you want to grow your quail population, create a pollinator plot, build a pond, or attract more deer, these folks will come out for free and offer their expertise. Some projects you can do immediately, like building brush piles for small game. Other projects, like ordering saplings and natives for long-term growth, may take more time. Contact your local conservation agent (short.mdc.mo.gov/ZoF), and he or she will direct you to the right resource.
Spotlight on people and partners.
By Madi Nolte
Jawdat, an Iraqi immigrant and neurology professor at the University of Kansas, first showed interest in waterfowl hunting at a public duck-calling program at Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center. It was there he met former MDC Education Specialist James Worley, who became a mentor for this adult-onset waterfowl hunter. In the past two seasons, Jawdat has hunted almost every weekend and has even begun teaching others.
“I have kind of taken Jawdat under my wing and even invited him out to hunt with me,” Worley said. ”And now, he is definitely a waterfowl hunter. He’s hooked.”
“If someone has an interest, there is always a way,” Jawdat said. “Hopefully there will always be programs like these so people can get the right education and become conservation aware, and hopefully pass that on to their friends and family.”
What’s your conservation superpower?
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